How to Use Employee Feedback for Business Growth


December 6, 2019

Ashley Wilson

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At a time when there are more open positions than there are qualified candidates to fill them, there's a buyer's market for those who are seeking quality work experience. That leads the most talented candidates to become more discerning about where they work.

Employees feel comfortable giving each other feedback, because Kudos helped them build a culture of openness and trust.

Table of Contents

When there are more open positions than qualified candidates to fill them, the most talented candidates become more selective about where they work.

In their minds, you need them more than they need you.

So, how do you create a corporate culture that draws the best of the best and makes employee retention almost effortless?

You build a corporate culture that's supportive, makes staff feel valued, and encourages open and honest communication. Employee feedback is a comprehensive and sustainable way to do so.

Building a feedback culture into your business model provides a high ROI. Invest in your company’s most valuable resource — people.

What is a feedback culture?

HR managers, want to do everything in their power to create a healthy and productive work environment.

Old methods of increasing productivity can be demoralizing and counterproductive. Rather than working together, everyone is competing against each other. Threats and punitive actions don't work very well, either.

There's a better way to ignite passion and loyalty in your staff; to make them feel valued, not used. You need to move away from a culture that's based on numbers and output to one that's employee-centric and nurturing.

A feedback culture is one that enables staff members at every level to feel free to provide feedback and constructive criticisms.

It provides lower-level staff with the means to improve their work environment and opens the lines of communication between staff, management, C-level executives, and so on.

How feedback improves business function

Only 16% of employees feel connected and engaged in their current job. This level of disengagement not only lowers morale and job performance, but it’s costly.

Companies of all sizes lose about $450–$550 billion each year due to high turnover and restaffing rates, lower productivity, and a host of related issues, according to Gallup.

With a feedback-centric model of corporate culture, staff feel more invested in the success of an enterprise. Absenteeism and work-related injuries decrease, while overall morale greatly improves.

To reap these benefits, you need strategies that encourage positive interaction, and a roadmap that ties feedback to measurable improvement.

It's all about how you gather, process, and apply feedback.

Collecting and incorporating employee feedback the smart way

What does employee feedback look like to you?

Maybe, you picture a suggestion box on the break room table with a stack of forms next to it.

That's certainly one way to collect feedback from staff members, but it's not the only way.

A long-term strategy for engagement allows staff at every level to have agency over their work environment, and encourages personal responsibility for outcomes. This strategy must be woven organically and sustainably into the very fabric of your organization.

Here are some best practices that have worked for other organizations; perhaps, they'll turn things around for yours.

Employ multiple channels for feedback

No matter how open the culture, some staff members feel uncomfortable with one-on-one discussions or critiques. Providing multiple channels for staff members can help everyone feel comfortable participating.

This is where the old, reliable, anonymous suggestion box can find a new life, but there are other means of communication. For example, surveys, team-building exercises, and online platforms.

Normalize feedback culture and processes

The more comprehensive your feedback strategy, the more natural and organic it will feel.

Many employees aren't used to giving feedback, and may even fear the process. It may make more traditional managers uncomfortable at first, but the process becomes natural.

For example, you could have an informal session directly after a monthly staff meeting where smaller groups of employees provide feedback.

Put an emphasis on personal responsibility

Business leaders and HR managers should be accountable for feedback, show their support by attending sessions, and address critical issues at the earliest possible opportunity. In turn, employees will be more willing to accept personal responsibility for their role in the company's successes and missteps.

Ask for feedback at every opportunity, and show that you are willing to accept it with an open mind.

Balance the positive and negative

Not all of your feedback is going to be critical. However, only paying attention to positive feedback and getting defensive over negative feedback is counterproductive.

That said, if the only feedback an employee receives from you is negative, they may feel demoralized and disengaged.

Try to balance positive and negative feedback by beginning any discussions on performance with comments on ways the employee excels or adds to job quality.

If any negative issues need to be addressed, they should be communicated in a way that's constructive.

Establish an atmosphere of openness and trust

Your staff will be more willing to provide feedback of any kind if the corporate environment itself is one of trust and openness.

Make clear, both in writing and practice, that employees are free to provide constructive feedback without fear of punishment.

Make feedback a continuous activity

Employee feedback supports continuous improvement. 

Rather than annual reviews and other periodic methods of engagement, make feedback a continual part of your business. This can be achieved through frequent, informal idea-sharing gatherings, project-based performance review protocols, and open-door policies.

Final Thoughts

Creating a feedback culture at your organization helps employees feel more secure and valued. It's a way to let them know they count — that their opinion is important to you.

This type of work environment supports employee engagement, lowers staff turnover rates, boosts morale, improves business processes, and makes you a better manager.

Happy workers make for happy customers. Getting feedback from your staff doesn't require a huge investment, and the returns are invaluable.

About Ashley

Ashley Wilson is a content creator, writing about business and tech. She is also a movie buff so she has been known to reference epic scenes in casual conversation. She has two cats, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.

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About Kudos

Kudos is an employee engagement, culture, and analytics platform, that harnesses the power of peer-to-peer recognition, values reinforcement, and open communication to help organizations boost employee engagement, reduce turnover, improve culture, and drive productivity and performance. Kudos uses unique proprietary methodologies to deliver essential people analytics on culture, performance, equity, and inclusion, providing organizations with deep insights and a clear understanding of their workforce.

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